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Access upgrade for housing association

The registered housing association Gloucester City Homes owns and manages around 4,450 rented homes, 500 sheltered housing properties, 270 leasehold properties, 30 commercial units and 52 homeless units. It recently upgraded access control in dwellings.

The organisation has a 30-year financial business plan to spend around £100m in new homes in the region. David Wainwright, the housing body’s IT operations manager, says: ‘We aim to respond to the changing needs and expectations of our tenants and this means that we must keep up with the technology that is available to help us achieve that objective. It was obvious to me that innovations in access control had moved on apace in the 20 years since the previous PAC system had been installed in 236 of our buildings across the city. Although the system had served us well I decided to invite in PAC’s area manager, Lloyd Palmer, to look at what we could do to upgrade it.’

The previous access control was based on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) dial up modem. This used a standard phone line to manage over 4,500 key fobs, which often proved slow and laborious. It also meant that the key fob database was not as accurate as David Wainwright wanted it to be.

After taking a brief that took into account Gloucester City Homes’ long-term objectives, Lloyd Palmer of STANLEY Products & Solutions put together a proposal that involved the install of PAC 512 controllers and modems to create a remote monitoring platform that could be accessed via a PC, tablet or smartphone. He says: ‘PAC 512 devices utilise the general packet radio service (GPRS) platform, which is a faster and cost effective means of connecting remote sites via a mobile network. It provides an enhanced service over traditional mobile/landline telephone connections and makes administration of the system more flexible.’

The proposal was then put out to tender, that went to Birmingham-based Harrold-Jones Services. The company’s sales manager, Phil Povey, says: ‘With significant experience in installing security and access control equipment in the residential sector for almost 20 years, we were delighted to have the opportunity to work with Gloucester City Homes and PAC, whose products have high levels of innovation, reliability and ease of use.’

Over three months, HJS engineers installed the new system to an agreed programme. Each site remained operational, to ensure consistency of service until the new system was installed, commissioned and tested and a switchover completed. During that time staff from Gloucester City Homes familiarised themselves with the operation of the system at PAC’s training centre in Stockport.

The new system has been fully integrated with the PAC Residential Cloud, which allows designated staff to access information remotely. David Wainwright says: ‘The previous system’s limitations meant that any problems and issues had to be dealt with by two or three centrally located individuals. This was obviously restrictive and meant a delayed response. By contrast, the new technology allows remote diagnostics, technical issues, servicing and key fob management to be carried out by a team of over 25 people. It’s also possible to remotely view status, unlock a door and access an event log. It has made a massive difference to response times and using the cloud also means that a dedicated technical team can address connection issues, manage the system and be proactive by highlighting problems and putting contingencies in place.’

The PAC Residential Cloud uses a virtual private network (VPN) to keep data safe and meet the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Information is stored with The Bunker, a trusted PAC partner for compliant outsourced infrastructure. The Bunker’s fully owned UK data centres are secure by their design and certified to the ISO 27001 standard for information security management.

Naturally from time to time residents lose their key fobs. David Wainwright says: ‘If this happens, we can quickly access their information, carry out an authorisation check, let them into their block and, if necessary, deactivate the missing fob. Instantly deleting key fobs that are lost makes our buildings more secure. We have also configured key fobs to activate barriers to allocated parking spaces in car parks, equipment stores and communal facilities.’

He adds: ‘The improvements to our responsiveness, flexibility and overall efficiency have been significant. This has positive implications for tenant satisfaction and means that we now have a future proof system that keeps residents as safe as possible. Working in true partnership with PAC by STANLEY Products & Solutions and Harrold-Jones Services was a pleasure and the entire installation process was seamless.’



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